Rowan Williams is the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury – the spiritual leader of the world’s 100 million Anglicans. He is considerded by many to be the most influential and brillant theologian in our day. This is the second book by Williams that I have read, the first being Where God Happens. Archbishop Williams writes in Tokens of Trust an introduction to the major beliefs of the Christian faith.
I need to be honest in saying that this was one of the hardest, easiest reads for me. It is written in a style and with language that any can read and understand but the thoughts are deep and profound. The chapters in the book are sermons that Williams preached at Canterbury Cathedral during the week before Easter, 2005. His topics centered around the Nicene and Apostle’s Creeds, and he tries to answer some of the weightiest questions many have about the Christian faith. Topics such as who to trust, God’s love, Christ’s nature and resurrection, the Trinity, and Heaven and Hell are all covered in 159 pages.
A great strength of the book was how he ably answers all these questions in a conversational, simple to understand way. The hard part was in understanding his way of thinking. Archbishop Williams truly has a gift for using language, and what he says often leaves you thinking and wanting to go back and reread what was just said. It is a great read but not easy to understand from time to time.
Some of my favorite quotes from the book include:
“God cannot be for us an object at the mercy of our scrutiny, becasue God is always active, never just there over against us like objects in the world” (p.19).
“Christian teaching isn’t just static; it’s always trying to learn from the last set of mistakes” (p.72).
“Our holiness isn’t a matter of achievement but of relatedness to Christ” (p.126).
This is just a taste but it is a book filled with great lines and deep thoughts about God. I do want to caution about one thing before I end this review. If you are not accustomed to reading materials outside the brotherhood you may find some of what he says vastly different from anything that you have ever heard. This is what made the book difficult for me. It was written from an unfamiliar perspective. Now that does not mean it is a bad book. As a matter of fact, this adds to its value in my opinion. We all need to be challenged at times to think outside our boxes. The second we think we have it figured out is the second God drops a mental bomb on us. Tokens of Trust is a great read to get an introduction to the Christian faith from a perspective that you will not be familiar with, but it is filled with theological bombs with which you will be grateful that you now know.